North Carolina GOP: “Curses, Foiled Again!”

Two weeks ago in a special surprise session of the North Carolina General Assembly, Republicans passed several laws aimed at stripping governor-elect Roy Cooper of his power to govern the state. The laws were quickly signed by outgoing governor Pat McCrory. Roy Cooper is a Democrat. North Carolina’s Republicans don’t believe Democrats snidely-whiplashshould have the same powers as they do, thus the making and the signing of the new laws.

When the laws were passed, Cooper said he had every intention of suing the state legislature. On Friday, December 30, Cooper made good on that promises, stating that a law ending the control governors have over statewide and county election boards was unconstitutional because it gives legislators too much control over how election laws are administered.

Currently, the board of elections has three members, with a majority from the governor’s party. The new law would undercut the governor’s authority by having it made up of four members, two from each party.

On Friday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens ruled in Cooper’s favor, temporarily blocking the law that was due to go into effect on January 1, to coincide with Cooper being sworn in as North Carolina’s governor. Stating that the law was a risk to free and fair elections, Stephens said he would review the proposed law in more detail next week.

No doubt, Republicans will be irate.

Curses, foiled again!

In addition to Cooper’s lawsuit against the state legislature, this past Wednesday the Republican-controlled state board of education said it would be suing the state legislature as well. In this lawsuit Republicans will be suing members of their own party.

The board of education is suing because one of the new special session surprise laws transfers many of its powers over to the state’s newly elected Republican state superintendent of public instruction. That lawsuit, like the one filed by Cooper, claims that this new law is also unconstitutional.

See also: The latest, NC: Law stripping gov.-elect’s power blocked.

North Carolina court temporarily blocks laws stripping governor’s power.

North Carolina judge temporarily blocks law that strips incoming Democratic governor’s power.

Illustration: Snidely Whiplash from Rocky and Bullwinkle Wiki.




Education Jobs Go On the Chopping Block as NC General Assembly Overrides Governor’s Veto

By Richard Thayer

Education went to the chopping block Wednesday night as the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly voted to override Governor Beverly Perdue’s budget veto. The vote in the Senate was along party lines while five Democrats in the House sided with the Republicans. The $19.7 billion spending plan will cut sales taxes while preserving “essential” (emphasis added) programs. This according to Republicans in justifying the cuts.

Democrats, however (with the exception of the five mentioned above), say that the cuts will result in thousands of those in the educational field losing their jobs.

Commenting on the Republican victory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said that “our $19.7 billion budget will do more for public classrooms and help the economy create more jobs than (Perdue’s) proposal.”

Most Democrats, and progressive voters in the state, believe as does Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, that “someday we’re going to be looking at some of these cuts and we’re going to say this is the time where we turned away from education.”

In the meantime, as the freshly minted budget would eliminate thousands of jobs and freeze the pay of many others who are still clinging to their jobs, Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Charlotte, has given raises to seven of his 14 member staff and hired a 15th staffer.

According to a recent article in the Raleigh News and Observer, Tillis has hired a new staffer for $70,000 a year and given some “fat” pay raises to half of his staff. Most notable among them is a $30,000 pay hike to his general counsel and chief of staff. The counsel’s pay was increased from a paltry $110,000 to $140,000 and his chief of staff’s went from $120,000 to $150,000.

This would seem to be in line with other hypocritical acts performed by our state and federal officials of late whose slogan seems to be “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Although those of us who were against the state’s budget proposal and for Governor Perdue’s veto have lost this round, please remember that there are many more rounds yet to go between now and November 2012. We are not down for the count.

Listed below are several other issues that are yet to be decided in the North Carolina General Assembly. This is information provided to us by Kevin Rogers, Legislative Director for Action, NC.

House Bill 351 which would require citizens to show government-issued photo ID every time they vote,even though they proved their identity when they first registered. This bill would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.

House Bill 744 will effectively make ICE agents out of school principals and erode trust between school administration and families. It would allow school principals to ask parents whether the child is a citizen or a national of the United States, and if the child is not, the immigration status of the child. This is a blatantly anti-immigration bill that is both mean-spirited and legally dubious.

Senate Bill 9 is a bill that would reverse the 2009 Racial Justice Act, taking the state’s law books back to where they were before the commonsense law took effect. It would also nullify the more than 150 appeals death-row inmates and criminal suspects have made in the past two years, as well as rulings that have thus far been made.

Senate Bill 47 would repeal same-day registration in North Carolina, ban straight-ticket voting, shorten the early-voting period by a week, and ban early voting on Sundays. This bill is specifically designed to deny voting access to thousands of our fellow citizens.

Take a moment to thank Governor Perdue for standing with the average people of North Carolina and urge her to continue to take principled stands against legislation that will continue to take us back, rather than move us forward.

North Carolina Pursues More Anti-Union Legislation

By Richard Thayer

Question. Would you buy a used car from the man who is pictured to the left of this blog? How about a vacuum cleaner? Tupperware?

He looks nice enough, doesn’t he? Clean cut, friendly eyes, warm smile, sharp suit.

Ah, but don’t be deceived.

The pleasant looking fellow is Rep. Tim Moffitt, freshman Republican representative from Buncombe County, North Carolina. Last week Mr. Friendly at left co-sponsored an amendment that, if passed, would limit workers to forming unions by eliminating card-checks.

He is pushing the amendment by disguising it as something that is actually good for North Carolina. Says Rep. Moffitt, “We feel that this is a responsible way to protect our citizens–that should be able to have the right to vote by secret ballot–from being subjected to a card-check type policy that is destined to get here if we don’t stop it now.”

Fortunately, the amendment faces one rather large hurdle. It’s unconstitutional. Imagine that from the party that touts the supremacy of that very same document. According to the Constitution, a state cannot by either statute or constitutional amendment, pre-empt federal law. But a little detail like that isn’t preventing Rep. Moffitt and Republicans in the state’s General Assembly, from pursuing it with zeal.

And North Carolina isn’t the only state where rabid Constitutionalists are threatening to violate the very document they are sworn to uphold. Both Arizona and South Dakota have attempted such legislation already and are now being sued by the National Labor Relations Board. Utah and South Carolina are also pushing for such an amendment as well.

If the North Carolina General Assembly should succeed in passing the bill, it too will be sued by the NLRB, which will result in the state and its citizens having to spend a lot of money needlessly. We’re talking millions of dollars.

Which begs the question: If the number one concern in the country is jobs, why are our state and federal governments wasting time and money on something like this?

If you would like more information on how this amendment conflicts with federal law, go here for a PDF fact sheet.

To read more about the anti-union amendment, go here.

And to listen to Rep. Moffitt’s comments on the radio, go here.

Governor Beverly Perdue Ends Hostage Situation in North Carolina

By Richard Thayer

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue ended a hostage situation on Friday when she signed an Executive Order reinstating unemployment insurance for approximately 47,000 laid off North Carolinians.The state’s unemployed have been without financial aid since April 16 when the state allowed the benefits to end when it lost eligibility for the federally funded Extended Benefits program.

The unemployed could have had their benefits extended back in April had it not been for the fact that Republicans used the crisis as a way to cut the state’s budget by 13 percent. Instead of passing a clean bill reinstating the state’s unemployed, they added a stipulation to the bill cutting the budget by double digits. Governor Perdue had no choice at the time but to veto the measure, calling it “extortion.”

In effort to persuade the Republican majority to reconsider its stand on helping the unemployed, Senator Martin Nesbitt (D) set up a public hearing so that these laid off workers could have their say before the Republicans.

Of those who spoke at the hearing was Ken Williams of Wilson. According to an article in the NC AFL-CIO newsletter Williams drove to the hearing in Raleigh with what gas he had left. “I lost my pride a long time ago,” he said. “Last night I had to visit my daughter. She wanted to borrow something, and she had to give me gas money to get there and back. I’ve never been in a position like this. If I can’t pay my rent next month, I’m gonna be homeless. You folks are holding my future in your hands. You’re holding hostage federal money that has nothing to do with our state.”

Mr. Williams plea for help from the Republicans obviously fell on deaf ears as they continued their political maneuvering, unnecessarily tying the state’s budget to the federal aid.

In signing the Executive Order on Friday Governor Perdue said, “They were holding me hostage, but they were really holding 47,000 people hostage. So, yeah, finally I am going to act on my own.”

Even though the federal money was approved by the Dept of Labor, Republicans said they were going to look into the matter to see if Perdue has the authority to make the change. In other words, if at all possible, they want to hold the state’s unemployed hostage a little while longer.

After the order was signed by Perdue, the Employment Security Commission released a statement saying that it is working as quickly as possible to respond to the order, adding that it anticipates paying a majority of the claimants by some time next week.

The ESC call center will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday, June 6 through June 10. For more information, please go here.

Progress Being Made on NC Workers’ Comp Bill

By Richard Thayer

We had blogged a few days ago that the North Carolina General Assembly was poised to vote on HB 709, a bill that could potentially adversely affect workers’ compensation for thousands of those in our state who have been injured on the job.

There was to have been a meeting of the House Tort Reform Committee this past Thursday (May 19) to further discuss the issue and possibly schedule it for a vote.

Prior to the meeting, concerned citizens were being encouraged to call and/or email our state representatives in Raleigh and voice our concerns over the matter.

Well, we have good news. Unlike politicians and business interests in other states, ours have evidently been listening to the outcry against the contents of the original bill.

As the result of that outcry, the Tort Reform Committee decided to postpone Thursday’s meeting and to go back to the drawing board.

Information coming out of Raleigh on Wednesday indicated that all the parties involved in this have agreed to continue meeting in an effort to come up with a compromise that will be acceptable to all of the parties involved, something that is rather rare in these days of political bickering in many states.

Earlier this week word coming out of Raleigh was optimistic from all sides. According to a news release from PRNewswire fair and reasonable adjustments to the existing law for both employers and employees is within reach.

One of the parties working on this–the North Carolina Advocates for Justice–have termed the discussions as “fruitful.”

The NCAJ supports changes in the current law that give reasonable incentives for injured workers to return to work; protect those who are the most seriously injured; and retaining an approach to the law that is both fair and balanced.

If you contacted your state House and Senate reps earlier this week, you might want to consider contacting them again thanking them for their willingness to compromise.